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Lower burden of proof required in wrongful death claims

| Jun 26, 2020 | Personal Injury |

Most people in Florida would likely admit that there are few things more difficult to bear than the unexpected death of a family member. This is especially true when that death is preventable and is caused by misconduct or negligence on the part of someone else. In such a situation, there are two paths toward justice: a criminal proceeding and a civil one in the form of a wrongful death lawsuit.

While wrongful death lawsuits often follow criminal trials, it is not necessary for someone to be found guilty of a crime to be found financially responsible for someone’s death. In fact, civil cases have a much lower burden of proof, requiring only that a defendant be found responsible by a preponderance of evidence. In comparison, there must be proof that a person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to be convicted in criminal court.

For a wrongful death lawsuit to be successful, it must contain several elements. First, the case must be brought by a representative of the victim’s estate. In addition to there being a death of the human being, that death must have been the result of another’s negligence or intent to harm. There are typically also surviving family members who suffer financially as a result of the loss.

The grief that is associated with a sudden loss is often debilitating for surviving family members, making it difficult for them to fully understand the potential courses of action available to them. As such, they may ask an experienced professional to carefully examine their case and help them determine what course of action is most appropriate. While a successfully presented wrongful death lawsuit will likely do little to alleviate the emotional fallout of such a loss, it can ensure that all financial responsibilities are met, allowing plaintiffs to fully focus on their recovery rather than how they will pay their bills.